Saturday, October 28, 2006

You Rang?

There are certain times of the day when the ringing of the telephone tolls bad news. When the phone rings at 2am, you can bet a wooden nickel you're not being notified you won Megabucks. A phone call an hour after you delivered your little people to school, is usually to inform you that said little person is tossing Cheerios in the nurse's office.

My telephone buzzed at 10 pm. I wrinkled my nose in annoyance as I thought the call would be from one of the election parties asking me to endorse their candidate. Caller ID flashed the Weebles number. An icy fist clenched my heart. A phone call from the Weebles at 10pm could not be good news. I wondered which one had fallen or had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. Adrenaline is coursing through my system. I can feel my heart pounding against my rib cage. I grab the receiver and bark, "What's wrong?"

Ma is on the other end of the line. "You didn't put the handicap parking card back in my pocketbook!" (This last is pronounced "pock-uh-book")

I look at the receiver in my hand as if I'm holding an object I have never seen before in my entire life. A glance at the computer clock indicates, it is indeed past 10 pm at night. Thoughts flash through my head at lightning speed. It's 10 pm, where the hell are you going now? You and your girl friends heading up to the Golden Banana? Why are you calling me about this NOW? Why didn't you call at 4pm? Or after supper?

To recap: Twelve hours earlier I had taken her to Target to pick up refills on her prescriptions. I had tried to tell her I could have Himself pick up the stuff on his way to school. She insisted she had to sign for them. As I headed up the road, she informed me "Your father doesn't go this way." (i.e. You are going the wrong way) I try to keep my voice light. "This is the route the number 9 bus takes. If you don't like this route, you can wait on the corner for another bus to come along." At the pharmacy desk, I ask the pharmacist if anyone could pick up a refill for Ma. We are cheerily told "Yes, you can even call ahead and we'll have it ready for you." I had the urge to stick my tongue out. So there!

"I put the card in your purse."

"Well, it's not there! I looked."

"Look again, because I put it in your purse." She puts the receiver down and goes to take another look. Pocketbook or purse is really a misnomer for the item Ma uses to carry her personal belongings. It is made of leather and that is the only resemblance to a pocketbook, purse, or handbag. It's made of leather and is roughly the size of a steamer trunk. It also has a thousand different flaps, pockets, nooks, and crannies. Some are open, close with a snap or a zipper.

"You put it in the wrong place!"

Mind you, my heart has been pounding and adrenaline has raced through my system. I can feel my short fuse now being ignited. "I put it in your purse." My reply is said tersely through my clenched teeth.

"What are you getting upset about?" I didn't give her a chance to finish with "You only made a mistake."

"Because I'm sick and tired of being told I go the WRONG way, and I put things back in the WRONG place. I put the card in your purse. If you don't like where I put it...." I can taste the word 'shove' on the tip of my tongue, and I quickly swallow it. "You can put it where you like."

She hung up the phone. Why didn't I just answer the phone, "Sorry, wrong number?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Magic 8 Ball

I have the opportunity to teach a children's workshop during February vacation week. The Weebles have a doctor's appointment scheduled for that week, and I called them to make sure there were no other appointments scheduled for the day I was given for the workshop.

Dad couldn't find his appointment book. While he tore the house apart, Ma talked to me.

"I thought you would show up today. I need you."

"No, not today, I told you maybe Friday, and that depends on what time the guy who pumps the septic system shows up. What do you need?" I'm thinking 24 more cans of beets to keep the 24 cans she has company.

"I ran out of my prescription."


"No, Saturday." I sighed heavily and looked to the heavens. I could hear Dad in the background speaking in tongues, and I had the urge to utter a few phrases. "Why didn't you call over the weekend?"

"I thought you would show up."

Third base! I debate about telling her I haven't perfected the art of mind reading yet, but I'm close. "I can ask Himself to swing by the pharmacy and get the pills for you."

"No, I have to take the paper to the pharmacy to have it filled. Your father can't find his appointment book, and the paper was in his book." She proceeded to tell me how Dad wouldn't be able to find without a mirror and a flashlight.

So, looks like an emergency shuttle run on Friday, if the septic guy shows up early. Hopefully, Dad will have found his appointment book by then. My Magic 8 ball says: Don't count on it.

Monday, October 23, 2006


It's that time of year again, the annual Christmas card design. Each year, I firmly begin by stating the design will be simple, and each year I find myself creating a card more elaborate than the year before. Not this year! This year's design is going to be simple and easy to assemble.

It started innocently enough. I was looking through a book of artists trading cards. There was a clever pop up card done for a Christmas exchange. I could do that. No! Simple remember. But the popup is so cool. No, there's too much work involved. How 'bout this nice design, you could draw a sprig of holly and ivy. Then you could scribe the lyrics to the carol The Holly and the Ivy. Traditional. Nice and simple. Boring! Look at this cool popup. It's easy just three pieces. Four if you count the verse to print on the front. Well, it doesn't look too difficult.

My hand is tired and sore from cutting two of the three easy pieces. I used the rotary cutter to cut out the third. Whipped through those suckers right quick. All the pieces have to be scored, folded, glued, and suitable decoration added. The verse is scribed waiting to be scanned into the computer and printed. The envelopes still have to be addressed, and the illuminated initial is in my head waiting for my hands to find time to illustrate it. Sigh.

Next year, definitely simple. Next year, I'll buy a box of Hallmark cards.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Everyone Is A Comedian

I was having a lovely wallow in bed when Himself came into the bedroom.

"What, still in bed? The sun is up. Your buddy, Heath, would have done a half day's work already.

"So wouldn't my buddy, Silas." I rolled over and opened one eye to look at the clock. "Mmmph, the sun is barely over the horizon. Besides, it's Sunday, Heath wouldn't have to get up early. Day of rest, remember? I'm resting."

Himself reached for a sweatshirt and shrugged into it. "You going out to rake the leaves?" I asked.

"I'm going to the sunroom to watch a Jackie Chan movie. It's still cold out there."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Code in My Node

It started last night. First a snuffle, then a wheeze then a sneeze. I was tired all day. I felt like my caboose was 2 miles behind. This morning, I was all stuffed up, and my sinuses felt like an elephant was sitting on my face.

Stumbled out of bed and told Himself, "I dink I haf a code."

"That's what you get for sitting in the doctor's waiting room with all the weebles.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Yesterday, took Ma and Dad to the doctor's office. I was hoping the doc would be on time as I needed to be out for the afternoon run to driver training and school pick up. Ma was ready, waiting, and half way out the door when I arrived.

We were 15 minutes early for their appointment, and Ma was hoping the doctor would take them early. The waiting room is set up like a bus station with two rows of seats facing each other. Nearly every seat was taken. Blew Ma's idea about the doctor seeing them early. Ma and I found two seats at one end of the room, and Dad took a seat by himself at the other.

The med tech saw me and said, "Are you here again?" (Since the Weebles have a doctor for every toe, we were there two weeks ago to see the heart toe. Yesterday's appointment was to see the primary care toe.) Two weeks ago, the med tech and I had an OPD Support Meeting. "So, how's it going?" she asked. "The same. You?" "Same." We both laughed. She was busy so I couldn't chit chat with her.
After ten minutes, she looked out from the lab area, "Wow, they're really quiet today." Ma had nodded off in her chair, and Dad was reading a magazine. "Oh," she said, "You have them separated." I winked.

Their first appoitment came and went. Their second appoinment came and went. They weren't called until a half hour after the first appointment. Why can't doctors keep their appointments? It's so rude. Makes me want to send the doctor a bill for the wait time, and then a denial to pay from the insurance company.
We were there almost an hour and a half just for them to have their blood pressure taken. Still, I got them there and back and made it home in plenty of time for the afternoon run.
Click on the picture of the Kitty clock.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

009Friends Like This

Saturday was another glorious Fall day. I met Teague for lunch and then we took a walk along a bike trail along the Charles River. It was a bit breezy but the walk sooned warmed us up. Since the day was so beautiful lots of people were out and about. We passed a young family. The mother was pushing a baby in the carriage. The baby, with her large pumpkin head and one tooth grin smiled at everyone.

"There's a happy baby," said Teague.

"I'd be happy too if someone pushed me around."

"Your day is coming. You'll be the Weeble, and Angel will be pushing you around in a wheelchair. 'Angel, I want you to take me to Mahket Bahsket...' "

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Too Pretty to Whine

Fall is not my favorite season, but yesterday was too pretty to whine about anything. Val and I took a road trip to Mystic. We wound our way through the back roads and farms under a brilliant blue sky and blazes of color as the trees have reached peak color.

Old Mystic Village is a collection of quaint gift shops arranged like a colonial village. We were surprised there was hardly anyone in the village when we arrived. We had the whole place to ourselves and poked into some of our favorite stores. The general store has free samples of fudge so we sampled the flavor of the day and of course, we bought some to take home. Yes, it even managed to arrive home still in its packaging.

We had no time limit, no commitments. What a relief to be just me for a whole day. I wasn't anyone's wife, mother or daughter for the entire day. I didn't have to shuttle, do, find, plan, help, or answer. I ate my lunch while it was still hot, and didn't have to clean up afterwards.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A One Sided Conversation

You girls won't get a chronic disease by replacing the toilet paper roll when it's empty.

Putting the roll on top of the toilet tank doesn't count as replacing the roll.

You don't know how? C'mon it's not brain surgery.

Don't be a smartass, it's not rocket science either. Release the spindle.

The spindle, the stick that holds the roll in place.

No, you won't prick your finger. You're not a little princess. The spindle has a spring, push it either from the left or the right to take it out of the holder. Take the empty cardboard tube and toss it in the trash or put it in the recycle bin. Place the full roll on the spindle and insert it back into the holder.

Because I won't always be around to replace the toilet paper for you. I'm fine. I just feel a pain forming behind my right eye.

No, changing toilet paper rolls is not an early sign of OPD.

I did not flip the bird at the two of you. I made devil horns.

No, that's a Texas Longhorn.

No, that's the Hawaiian Aloha. Devil's horns. Like this.

Yeah, it is a funny superstition. Grandma did it to me when I was a kid.

Yeah, I laughed until I had you two.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On a Serious Note

As much as I laugh about OPD, it's also a cover up. It's so hard to watch your parents age and in the aging fail in health. Through illness they are no longer able to do and enjoy some of the activities they once enjoyed. Sometimes they focus more on what they have lost instead of what they still have. I suppose we are all guilty of that.

It's hard being the child and suddenly having to be parent to your parents. You worry they leave the stove on, or forget medication, or will get into a car accident. They don't handle money as well as they once did. And it's hard to know the boundaries. How do you tell them to give up their independence by handing over the check book or the car keys? Most of all, you want to scream, "Not my monkey!" (translation: not my responsibilty), but if not mine whose?

I'm not an evil person because I laugh about OPD. I'm scared. Might not be very long before someone drops a nursing home on me.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I've been a bit surprised in my travels with a bottle of whine, how many of us are sandwiched between commitments in our lives: family, parents, work, friends, church, etc. Sometimes it seems no matter how long or fast we dance, we just can't please everyone. So how does one deal with stress and frustration? You just keep on dancing the best you can.

A friend asked if was cathartic. Heck, yeah! And it's cheaper and more fun than therapy too. (-;

Saturday, October 07, 2006

OPD and Logic

I've been looking through the photo album I got from the Weebles. I'm excited about the photos because I want to use them to create an altered cookbook to trace the family history through the family recipes.

Came across this photo and didn't recognize any of the men. Showed it to Himself and said, "Doesn't this look like the Godfather's button men?" I started humming the theme to The Godfather.

Flipping through other pictures I found the man in the foreground not wearing a hat is my mother's father. (The only grandparent I knew growing up was my mother's mother, ) Called Dad to ask him if he remembered this picture. I don't recall hearing stories of my maternal grandfather having siblings. Dad didn't really remember the picture, but said he thought his father might be in the photograph. He described his father, tall, glasses and always well dressed. (He was a tailor.) The tall man in the back must be my father's father.

"You know, Dad, none of these photographs are labeled. There's nothing written on them to say who the people in these pictures are."

"Don't worry, about that, honey. We (Ma and Dad) know who the people are.
"That's great, Dad, but what happens when you're dead?"

Friday, October 06, 2006

To Mahket, To Mahket

As I was heading down the Pike this morning, I was wishing I had my corduroy cap from 7th grade. The one that made Dougie Horton call me Kato. It was a cool cap, and I'd like to have a uniform for my new chauffeur duties, and a wicked car like the Green Hornet's Black Beauty.
Anywho, I thought the shopping expedition was going to turn out to be a nightmare, especially with the full moon rising tonight. It almost started that way, and I was so glad I had taken a dose of Excedrin before I left home. I was also feeling put upon, because Dad wasn't going to come shopping. He wanted to go to the Senior Center and sing with his glee club in the afternoon. (Mind, I'm driving in early morning rush hour traffic. Even if he came shopping, and Ma took her customary sweet time shopping, he would still make the glee club with time to spare.) I would have to take Ma shopping myself. Now, it's not that I hate my mother, no matter what Freud says. It's just she is difficult, and misery loves company. I also don't like these shopping expedtions because 1). I hate grocery shopping, and 2.) they are a minimum of three hours long. Ma likes to inspect all the meat in the case. We also can't go shopping at the nice supermarket two miles from the house. I can spit from the backyard and hit the parking lot. Nope, we have to travel two towns over, 15 or 20 minutes away to a market that is always busy and crowded.
Traffic was a bit heavy at the toll booth and then again by the old brewery as they were fixing the bridge over the lake so I was about 10 minutes late. Ma promptly pointed this out to me when I walked through the door. She thought my excuse of heavy traffic was flimsy.
She announces she is ready indignant that I have kept her waiting. Dad has on his hat and jacket. "Are you coming too?" I ask. He starts muttering in tongues and gets in the back seat of the car. Guess so, and inside I am happy dancing. Yes!
We head for the store, and you guessed it in the cheap seats, she is yelling at me I'm going the wrong way. I follow my Dad's example and start speaking in tongues.
The store parking lot is crowded and all the handicap spots are filled. I pull up to the firelane to offload the Weebles. Dad is trying to herd soda cans into a plastic bag. The cans have rolled all over the cargo bay of my wagon. I marvel at the tongues Dad can speak.
I help Ma out of the car and onto the sidewalk. A handicap spot opens up across the parking lot. She pats my hand and says, "I'll be fine. You better go grab the spot before it's taken. Your father knows the routine here." That's my ticket to sit in the car and wait. I happy dance the car across the parking lot.
Waiting was fun. I don't mind waiting. I had brought a pad of paper with me so I could finish my BV fanfic story "Never Fade Away". I also had the latest Outlander book with me. I fished my pad of paper and pencil out of my bag and soon was lost in the ending of the story. About an hour and a half went by, and the story was completed. I reached for the book, and happened to look up towards the door to the market, and there's Ma on one of the handicap scooters with a store clerk and shopping cart in tow. Dad came out a short time later pushing another cart.
Butter my buns and call me a biscuit, I couldn't believe they were done in record time! The store clerk helped put the groceries in the cargo bay. I loaded Ma into the front seat of the car, Dad got in the back, and we headed home "the right way."
Dad made a nice lunch of crabmeat salad. I asked Ma if I could take some family pictures of Grandma and Auntie so I could make copies to use for another altered book. She said I could have the pictures. After lunch, I gave Dad a lift to the Senior Center, and I headed home.
Dealing with OPD is always a surprise, and sometimes it's a good one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Wheels on the Bus

I wasn't always an Elder Bus Shuttle Pilot. I filled the position quite by accident in mid-July of this year. Literally. The Weebles had a fender bender. Fortunately, they were only shaken and not stirried, but their little green car didn't fare as well and was pronounced totaled.

Now, they can get around town using the Elder Van. You give the Elder Van 24 hours notice of where you want to go, and for $2 round trip, they will come and pick you up from your home, take you where you need to go, and take you home. When I asked Dad why he doesn't call the bus, he said, "That get's expensive!" As if the Gas Fairy comes every night to my house to top off the gas tank in my car, and the Toll Pike Fairy makes sure she leaves exact change for the tolls under the seat cushions. That's OPD. Then so that no burden is placed on me, he says "Don't worry about me. I'll walk!" That's OPD too. It's an issue of control and guilt. (-;

The first time, I drove the Elder Bus was a lesson in the control issue. Ma had a PT appointment. I had arrived early enough to make the appointment, but she decided she had to wash the kitchen floor. "I have to do this all by myself! Nobody helps me." Another part of OPD is the martyr syndrome. Ma will tell all willing and unwilling listeners how she has to do heavy work because no one else will. I sometimes think I should get her a couple of pieces of velcro. She can stick one piece on her forehead, and its partner on her wrist. Then she can raise her hand to her forehead palm out for maximum sympathy. Of course, I would be happy to help, but she has to ask, and it has to be on my schedule. I can't turn on a dime, but then it's really a control issue. (-;NASA has a 3 day window of opportunity when they schedule one of their shuttle launhes. I have a 3 hour window (actually 4 with an hour available in case of doctors running late, accidents and tie ups on the Pike, etc. but keep this quiet as the Weebles don't know about this safety margin.) After she finished washing the floor, a search ensued for for her glasses, the checkbook, and the handicap parking card. My 3 hour window was closing fast. Getting Weebles out of the house is a lot like herding cats or toddlers. Just when you get one going in the right direction, the other suddenly breaks and disappears. Where are my glasses? Get my coat! Did you unplug the coffee?Finally, I got them settled in the car and buckled in. I'm on the way to the therapist's office when Ma screams, "You're going the WRONG way!" I nearly slammed on the brake and activated the air bag. "You should be going down Wilson St! WRONG WAY, WRONG WAY." Suddenly, I'm with the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Clean cup! Clean cup! Move on down!
When heading towards the center of town, I happen to like going by way of the lights at Bacon St. I can easily make a left turn instead of trying to make the left turn against two lanes of traffic where no one yields. Yielding is not taught in the state's driver training classes. I continue along the way still being yelled at. My patience wears thin quickly. I finally pull the car over to the side of the road. "GET OUT!" I roar. There is some muttering from the front seat, a chuckle from the back. All goes quiet. I'm able to pull out into traffic, and we continue on our merry way.

At the therapist's, Ma has a captive audience. She tells everyone in the office how no one does anything for her. I introduce myself to the therapist to inform her, Ma didn't sprout wings and fly here by herself. The therapist giggles and in a conspiritorial whisper says, "I know just how it is. She sounds like my dad."
So the wheels on the bus go round and round. Tomorrow, we go grocery shopping.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Life Is Like A.....

A friend described her life as a casserole, layers of delicious things with surprises through them. My life is more like a brownie studded with nuts. Sometimes you enjoy the crunch, other times you break a tooth.

Dealing with the elder generation is a bit like that. Most times, it can be very sweet and pleasant. Other times, you wind up suffering the complications of OPD. Old People's Disease. My cousin coined the phrase. For example, being called to run out and buy a pair of pinking shears because "they are a good price."

How does one cope? Sit yourself down, listen to me whine, add a few cheezes, and then we'll have a good laugh.